No where else in the world will you find such innumberable pleasures as in Rome. The Eternal City offers today's travellers a spectacular collision of history and modernity.
Our curated guide follows the footsteps of Romans through their daily life, both in ancient and modern times. Each itinerary allows you to experience popular attractions without the crowds while providing a starting point to explore the parts of the city you may never knew existed. As with all of our guides, you are encouraged to use these itineraries as a starting point to make your own Roman memories.
Founded in 753 B.C.
≈ 9 million visitors annually
Rome's entire historic center designated a World Heritage Site
Year-round, but spring and autumn are ideal times to visit. Summer is hot, and as such, most Romans leave the city during parts of July and most of August. Compass & Key visited Rome in late November and enjoyed mild weather, short lines and few crowds at the majority of popular sites.
Compass & Key has stayed at several hotels in the historic center, the Centro Storico, from which you can easily reach the popular sites within a 20-30 minute walk while having authentic restaurants and shops at your doorstep. However, rates were more reasonable during our visit in the off-season. Make sure to review our complete list of curated hotels in Rome with the Compass & Key Hotel List, which will accommodate a range of budgets.
JK Place Roma, ($$$$, jkroma.com) an award-winning luxury boutique hotel in the heart of the Centro Storico, which was once the Rome School of Architecture in its previous life. Reserve through Mr. and Mrs. Smith for the Smith extra, currently a bottle of wine and fresh fruit. This is a splurge-worthy hotel, particularly during off-peak months.
Come hungry because Roman food - and wine - is divine. Make sure to try Cacio e Pepe, a simple but tasty pasta dish, as well as the array of fresh seafood. Our interactive map showcases several delightful restaurants, but in particular, we loved the service and cuisine at Osteria 140, a cucina and oyster bar located a few blocks from Hotel Indigo St. George. Make reservations here.
Cucina moderna e divertente, carta corta e prodotti freschi del territorio...ma soprattutto una grande passione e la voglia di dare il meglio... Vostro tavolo è già pronto!
HOW TO GET THERE
Most visitors fly into Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino international airport (FCO). Given that public transport isn't as accessible in the historic center, Compass & Key recommends taking the 50-minute taxi ride for €48, particularly if you have several pieces of luggage. If you prefer to save some Euros, there is an express train service for €14 that takes 32 minutes to reach Rome's main train station, Stazione Termini, running every 30 minutes. Both recommended hotels can be reached via public transport within 65-75 minutes but involve a transfer to bus or metro after the express train, followed by some walking (within ten minutes). Plot your own course with our transit app of choice, CityMapper.
Rome is exceptionally walkable. Getting around by foot offers the best way to take in the history that surrounds you. We at Compass & Key are avid supporters of public transportation, but we barely used it during our visit. Still, there is a metro and bus system available and tickets can be purchased at newspaper kiosks, tobacconists and metro stations.
CHECK FLIGHT TIMES TO ROME (Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino International Airport)
WHERE TO GO
Compass & Key has curated five itineraries for wandering Rome. Scroll below the map overview and click on the name of each itinerary for a dynamic map and guide.
A collection of our must-have guide books to this glorious city. Click on the images to purchase online through Amazon, or note the titles and go to your favorite local bookstore.
These three tiny booklets - one for each country - are the size of a credit card and help navigate the menus with a simple A to Z glossary.
The Official Rome Visitors Bureau to browse for events during your trip and the latest news about the city.
A handy List of Festivals and Events from TimeOut to cross reference with your vacation dates.
Eat With - Rome, where you can book meals and cooking classes hosted by locals. Recommended for the first or second day of your trip so you can ask your host about unique things to do and see.
Private Rome Tours, primarily of the culinary kind, with resident expert Katie Parla, covering everything from an introduction to Italian wine to neighborhood-specific cuisines. The Testaccio and Trastevere cuisine tour is on our list.
Explore the Compass & Key interactive map for Rome, showcasing so much more than just the places in our itineraries. Some sites we have visited while others were discovered through favorite travel writers and bloggers. Simply click on the icon to learn more.
OR, take the Compass & Key map of Rome with you by downloading the Mapstr app and following us @compassandkey.
CURATED STORIES FROM AROUND THE WEB
With a bit of planning, the Eternal City can be at its most bewitching at the onset of winter. For all its imperial and papal pomp and circumstance, Rome at heart is a beautiful child - raucous, dreamy, secretive, a touch spoiled, by turns exasperating and enchanting.
Carb-load at Be.Re. before a visit to the Vatican Museums, the largest and most physically demanding monument in town. Be.Re.'s gleaming copper bar pours craft beer from Italy and abroad, while the adjacent annex serves trapizzini (around €4), a recently invented take on the pizza: a trapizzino is a thick slices of sourdough bread filled to order with typical Roman dishes such as simmered oxtail, chicken alla cacciatora, and tongue with parsley sauce.
As a traveler with Italian roots, I'm admittedly a little biased. But there is something special about the Italian language. Whether it's a casual conversation, a heated argument, or an artfully-composed aria, everything just sounds better in Italian.